The flow of plastic entering the ocean is expected to double by 2040. To prevent this tsunami of difficult-to-decompose waste, experts have proposed a global treaty which could oblige all nations to reduce how much plastic they produce and emit to the environment.
At a recent meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, Kenya, ministers and representatives from 173 countries agreed on the terms for negotiating such a treaty over the next two years.
Is this the turning point for plastic pollution the world needs? And how will it work? We asked Steve Fletcher, a professor of ocean policy and economy at the University of Portsmouth and an advisor to the UN Environment Prograamme on plastic.
What has actually been agreed in Nairobi?
The UNEA is a gathering of all United Nations member states to discuss and adopt policies for tackling global environmental problems. It is the highest environmental decision-making body in the world. On Wednesday March 2 2022, ministers and representatives from 173 countries formally adopted a resolution to start negotiations for a legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution.
Agreeing the mandate and focus of the negotiations is just the start. Before the end of 2024, the substance of the agreement will need to be thrashed out.